The Sufis and Hashish – The Hippies of the Arab World

by Andra Roman
sufism hasish

The apocryphal oath by which Haydar entrusted his disciples not to reveal the secret of hashish to anyone but the Sufis underlies the close association between the drug and the Sufi movement in the Arab community.

(check our previous article in order to find the Arab legend that tells us about Hashish)

 

The origin of the name Sufi is connected with the wearing of undyed garments made from wool (suf) rather than cotton.

Such clothing was originally worn as a symbol of personal penitence, but was condemned by religious leaders because it suggested that such people were dressing in imitation of Jesus rather than Mohammed, who wore cotton.

The Sufis were the hippies of the Arab world.

Their origins were in Persia where they began as a group of ascetics who banded together to discuss religious topics and to recite the Koran out loud.

Some of these bands eventually formed fraternities and established monasteries such as that founded by Haydar.

Although the original leaders of the movement were orthodox in their religious principles, their successors and the new members who were drawn to the movement adopted a more mystical approach toward religion which was contrary to Islamic orthodoxy.

Furthermore, since most of the new devotees came from the lower and middle classes, the attitude of this new sect were increasingly regarded with distrust and suspicion by the upper classes and by the authorities.

One of the ways the Sufis encouraged the attainment of these spiritual insights was through the arousal of ecstatic states.

There were several different ways of achieving this condition, but the one most commonly resorted to was through intoxication by means of drugs such as hashish.

It was because of their frequent usage of hashish that the Sufis were credited both with the dissemination of the drug and with the downfall of Islamic society.

For the Sufis, however, hashish was merely a means of stimulating mystical consciousness and appreciation of the nature of Allah.

To the Sufi, a Moslem critic wrote, eating hashish is “an act of worship.”

sufism hashish

 

Sufism was much more than a heretical religious movement.

It represented a counterculture within the Arab community in the same way that the hippies of the 1960’s represented an ideological and behavioral counterculture within American society.

Both were peopled by “drop-outs” who rejected the dominant economic system in favor of communal living and sharing of material goods.

Both had their symbols. For the hippies, it was long hair and beads; for the Sufi, garments made of wool.

Since neither the hippie nor the Sufi had any interest in advancing himself in society or in economic gain, both were looked down upon by the Establishment in their respective eras as being lazy and worthless.

 

In many cases, their behavior was attributed to the effect of drugs.

 The dominant drug in both countercultures was made from Cannabis.

 

For the hippie, it was marihuana; for the Sufi, hashish.

sufism hashish

Since the drugs were similar, it is not surprising that many of the accusations leveled at cannabis have a familiar ring.

Both marihuana and hashish were accused of sapping the user’s energy, thereby robbing him of his willingness to work.

Insanity was another evil attributed to chronic use of these drugs.

Hashish drove men to madness, its Arab critics declared, by drying up the moistures in the lower parts of the body.

This resulted in vapors’ rising to the brain, thereby causing the mind to weaken and be destroyed.

Many critics contended that hashish produced physical dependence.

 

As a result of this dependence, the hashish addict spent all of his time and efforts looking for more hashish.

sufism hashish

 

The one comparison that breaks the link between the Sufis and the Hippies is social background.

In contrast to the hippies, many of whom came from well-to-do middle-class families, most Sufis were from the lower dasses.

One of the main reasons the Sufis chose hashish over other intoxicants like akohol was that hashish was cheap.

Although proscribed in the Koran, wine was always available to those who could afford it.

But wine was a luxury, the intoxicant of the rich; hashish was all the poor could afford.

 

This article contains fragments, bits and crumbles from

Marihuana The First Twelve Thousand Years, by Ernest L. Abel (1980)

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